I’m 100% convinced of the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of some kind of daily exercise, movement or physical activity. Changing up my activities keeps things interesting and fresh for me. One day, I may take a vigorous hike in the morning while, on another, I might go in the evening, enjoying the same hike at different times of the day. Some days, I might watch a Netflix program while running on the treadmill or throw in a yoga or Pilates DVD workout at home. On the weekends, Tom and I might take a bike ride on our usual route in town or head over to the coast for a new route along the beach. In the summer, we often kayak at the lake. In the winter, we sometimes strap on our snowshoes for a walk on a snow trail in the local mountains or hills behind our house.
But of all the types of exercise I’ve tried, I find a one-hour spin class at the gym the most personally challenging by far. I’m not sure why I find it more strenuous than an actual bike ride. Maybe it’s the lack of real scenery and fresh air. Maybe I don’t find the music choices very inspirational. Often, it’s the lack of connection or motivation I feel from the instructor.
Enter Ines Stewart. Tom had been attending her spin classes twice a week and raving about how great she was. But the gym was a 40-minute drive from my home office. I’d pass a dozen other gyms with spin classes on the way. I mean really… how good could she be?
Well, it turns out… Really good. I was hooked from the first class. What was the difference? I thought a lot about that in preparation of writing this Stretch. Here are three qualities that set her apart as an instructor and consequently her class as well.
Connection. Even though she may be setting up her bike, connecting her I-Pod, or adjusting the thermostat, Ines is simultaneously making direct eye contact and personally greeting everyone who comes into the room. If she doesn’t know you, she makes a point to find out your name and skill level and, if you’re new, gives some tips and encouragement. If you’re a regular, she welcomes you back, calls you by name during class (“This one’s for Tom!”) or allows you to choose if we’ll do a long hill or cardio spin next (“If you didn’t want the hill… blame it on Tom!”) You never feel this is just another class for her but rather this is your class, today’s class, our class. She creates connection to her and unity with our fellow “sweat mates.”
Presence. Ines is in this class. Right here, right now. Not back at work or thinking about making dinner later. She’s fully present in this hour with her students, watching them, helping them, pushing them. She’s not watching the clock and you feel there’s nowhere else she’d rather be… and she often says so.
Experience. But by far, the most compelling quality of this special instructor is the experience she creates for us. Once she starts, it’s not a stationary spin class as much as a psychological ride with fellow cyclists of all shapes, ethnicity, and skills. Whether she’s just getting over a cold or worn out from a busy week at work, you always get the feeling she’s having a great time! With high energy, a constant, beaming smile and adorable laugh, her good-natured personality makes it easy for us to actually enjoy all the hard work. Soon after the warm-up, she will ask us to close our eyes and “see” the ride ahead. Then she goes to work, painting a picture of a beach ride, mountain climb, or a race with you leading the peloton. She vividly describes the turns, the breeze, the road, the scenery, the riders coming up behind you. She even tells you what you are thinking as you ride like an experienced champion… you are determined, you ride as a gift to yourself, you know how strong your legs are, how much more they have in them, you feel in full control of your movements and breathing, you will go the distance. Toward the end of our class, as we begin to cool down, she selects thoughtful music during which she reminds us of the good we are doing for ourselves and the ability and responsibility we have to continue to do good for others as we leave this class. She reminds us to be grateful for our health, our strength, our resilience. And to come back again next time.
These three characteristics cause me to drive 30 minutes farther than I have to two evenings a week, get home later than I’d like on those days, and pay for a full gym membership even though I never go to anything else. This week, challenge yourself to bring more connection and presence to your work, customers, clients, and patients and to create a truly inspiring experience for them. They so seldom get it out there in the business world, you’ll have them “spinning for joy” and coming back for more… just like Ines.
You don’t have to hire a trainer to make every team meeting
deliver a huge dose of skills improvement and productive changes.
These simple but dynamic exercises will breathe life
back into your tired, dysfunctional meetings and help you:
– Review material without lecturing
– Find a fun way to see what’s missing, misunderstood, or simply not being done
– Get everyone involved and contributing without feeling picked on or singled out
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”